“He is nearing the end,” the message said…
The words felt unfamiliar and somewhat foreign… but they shouldn’t have. I have heard those exact words (or a variation thereof) a hundred times before. Maybe a thousand. Perhaps a million.
Family, friends, strangers… Death has always had a way of beckoning me to come close and bear witness to its achievements.
I cried as I read the words again and again and then watched them roll off the screen, onto the floor.
He is my friend.
We used to be “close” friends… we lived in the same neighbourhood, worked at the same place and we carpooled (my God, is that really 40+ years ago?) We were young and naive; different in so many ways, but quite similar in others. We’d bitch and moan about work, our co-workers, life and politics… and then we’d laugh and enjoy each others company on the drive back home.
Time, life and distance saw us slowly lose touch with each other. He left Amex; I stayed on. He moved out of the old neighbourhood, I remarried and I too eventually moved, to a different town. …but he was my friend, and we always had that.
When we connected on Facebook, several years ago, it was like no time had passed between us at all. We were a bit older, our children were grown, our lives had taken much different paths; however, there were parallels. He was a Grandfather, I was a Grandmother, we had both retired, we were both now in our 60’s… and we were still “friends.” And although we were separated by a lifetime of experiences and entire ocean, that friendship was intact.
He’s a bit younger than me… which makes all of this even more surreal. I sit here and contemplate my own mortality. I wonder; why him? Why not me? It could be me. It might have been me. Should it be me? And if not… why not?
Back then, we both had the same unhealthy lifestyle; smoking, bad eating habits, perhaps a little too much drinking. However, we were young and immortal. Time was on our side and we had an eternity of life to live and hardly a care in the world.
I can hear Bob Marley singing in the distance… “Don’t worry about a thing, Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Ahhhh, if only it were true Bob, if only it were true.
Life (and death) have a way of sneaking up on you and smacking you in the face, the minute you let your defences down!
“Smack,” your Mother’s dead.”
“Smack, smack, your brother’s dead.”
“Smack, smack, smack…” Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, co-workers… your Father. Strangers. Another brother.
And now, soon, an old friend. “Smack.”
Hmmmm? I just realised it’s the loss of another person who “knew me when.” Another person who might tell you that I was once young and perhaps beautiful; healthy and full of life. He could tell you I was clever and relevant; that I made a difference. He could vouch for the fact that I was funny and that if I had tried harder, perhaps I could have been so much more.
Ahhhh, I understand my sadness now. Sure, I will miss him, because he is my friend. He is, after all, a part of who I am today. … but I see also, that with him, goes a little piece of me.
As I sit here with my memories of him (and that time in my life); he will take his memories of me with him, and they will be gone forever. So really, a little piece of me will die with him.
And so it goes… with each loss we encounter, a little piece of us dies as well; until we are just a figment of someone’s imagination.
My friend and I are dying.